It took some time to come, but Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev chose the Valdai Discussion Club event in Sochi on 3 October to finally give an official and definitive response to points made by his Armenian counterpart Nikol Pashinyan, on Nagorno Karabakh and its future.
Pashinyan had in recent months, and as recently as last month whilst addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, asserted that he was making an important step forward in the Armenian position on the issue, by stating that any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict had to be acceptable to the people of Armenia, the people of Azerbaijan and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. More controversially, whilst addressing a crowd in Stepanakert in August Pashinyan stated that "Karabakh is Armenia".
Azerbaijani media had taken issue with Pashinyan on his statements, but this week it was the turn of the Azerbaijani president to give a definitive answer. "What is acceptable for Azerbaijan is restoring the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, recognized by the whole world, returning refugees and internally displaced persons to their original lands, including Nagorno-Karabakh. This is consistent with Security Council resolutions and the Helsinki Final Act", Aliyev told his audience. The president also took issue with Pashinyan's reference to the "people of Nagorno-Karabakh" I must say that recently the Prime Minister of Armenia often says that a solution to the conflict should be acceptable to the people of Azerbaijan, the people of Armenia and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. So, I must say that the concept of "the people of Nagorno-Karabakh" does not exist. There is a population of Nagorno-Karabakh, which before the conflict consisted of the Azerbaijani and Armenian populations with equal rights".
Aliyev also addressed Pashinyan's statement that "Karabakh is Armenia"
Aliyev said, "Well, firstly, it is, to put it mildly, a lie. Karabakh is recognized by the whole world as an integral part of Azerbaijan. Armenia itself does not recognize this illegal entity. Karabakh is a historical, original Azerbaijani land. So Karabakh is Azerbaijan!".
Haqqin.az, the influential Azerbaijani website, described Aliyev's delay in reacting to Pashinyan's statements, as "a grandmaster's pause".
photo: president Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan addressing the 16th Valdai Club Discussion in Sochi on 3 October 2019 (picture courtesy of the press service of the president of Azerbaijan).
The party described the arrest of Gagik Tsarukyan as shameless and cheap revenge.